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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Loneliness and Catholicism

One of the stalwarts of Catholicism is the total giving of oneself to God and to the service of others.  It is better, always, to give rather than receive or to love rather than be loved.  As a fully committed Catholic, I recognize that I am happiest and most at peace when I am more focused on others rather than my own wants or desires.

Yet it would be dishonest of me to deny that God created me human and, thus, a social creature.  I love companionship and friendship and often the deepest disappointments I feel are attached to rejection or loss of both.  To experience the feeling that one is isolated, standing alone in the forest so to speak, can be a tough feeling to bear.  I think it is one satan watches for with glee.  If he can get an otherwise good Catholic to make stupid decisions based on that feeling, he triumphs.

So what is the best defense against this feeling?

Contrary to what one might suspect, I don't think it is necessary to rush right out and do something, anything, to change the feeling of loneliness that might hit you when you least expect it.  I have learned over the years that my being able to weather those down days and disappointments without having to take an action to change the 'blues' allows me to exercise my spirituality.

How?

As a Catholic I am directed to unite myself as closely as possible with Jesus Christ.  I am asked to lose myself in Him, to try through a deliberate act of the will to understand life through His perspective.  My sufferings, my joys, my triumphs, my laughter, my loving, my hating - nothing I do or experience should be separate from Him.  It is through Jesus Christ that I find my own divinity, not as a god but as God Like, in His Image which is how I was created.  I discover myself by uniting myself with He who made me and continues to make me possible - without His constant thought, I cease to exist.

And this is true whether I believe He is God or not, whether I believe there is a God or not.  This Truth does not require my belief to make it so; the existence of a Creator is not a myth, not a comforting idea and not a fallacy.  He is....and because He is, I am.

When I feel as though I just cannot take another step because I am so tired, I can call to mind His journey to Calvary and how even God stumbled under the weight of His cross.

When I am overwhelmed by the feeling of sadness for my lost children and the husband who died too young, I can call to mind the sorrow He felt when He heard of the death of His friend Lazarus, and how even God wept when He visited the tomb.

When something happens and I cannot get any human creature to respond, to answer the phone or read the text message asking for help, I can remember that the very rock upon which His Church was built not only fell asleep in the garden but later denied he had ever met Him.

This deliberate act on my part, the deliberate and intentional turning towards the pain and uniting it with the pain felt by my Lord and Savior, allows me to exercise those spiritual muscles that I can  neglect by feeling sorry for myself.  It can give meaning to my life and allow me to combat the loneliness humans sometimes feel for good reason or no reason.  This act of my will can combat satan as he tries to pull me from my God, from His Church and from Truth.

Most importantly, I can turn to Him in The Eucharist.  I can take comfort in knowing that He did not leave me an orphan, that He is real, that He lives.

In this frame of mind, I pray my version of this prayer I found on line.  It is a prayer for those who suffer from loneliness.  If you want to pray it with me, that would be great.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your grace and courage to stand when it seems that all around me is mere mid air. You know how I long for that connection with other humans.  Help me to never become discouraged, depressed or disturbed so much that I fail to recognize you are always with me. I know you care about every moment I spend in solitude.  I thank you for the opportunity to draw more closely to you and I pray for the strength to resist the easy way out of loneliness.
I ask for this grace in the Name of Jesus Christ.

Amen.



1 comment:

Betsy Allen said...

Leslie, I pray for your strength....love you//// and always appreciate your posts...